Sports is one of the hottest debate topics in the world. Stroll into any pub or sports bar and there will always someone you can disagree with. “Your team sucks”, “This player is better than other player”, “This team will go all the way”, are common phrases one can hear, you need only listen out for them. One debate that isn’t fought enough, in my opinion, is which sport is king, and I’m going to set the record straight right now.
The English and the Americans have always had a bit of a friendly rivalry. They make fun of us for having rubbish teeth, being really posh and having funny accents and we make fun of them for Vietnam, questionable guns law and, well their funny accents. Our sports choices are very different as well. The USA loves football, basketball and baseball whereas us Limeys love a bit of soccer, rugby and cricket.
Some reading this (Hi Daniel) may think that the content of this article means I am a traitor and should be shunned by my country and fellow countrymen, but I’m merely going on what I see, and I see that the Yanks have got it right when it comes to which sports rules the roost, and here’s why.
Both soccer and basketball are physically intensive sports, but there’s no question that basketball is played at a much faster pace. In soccer, there’s a lot of gentle play when the back four pass it around at the start of an attack and nobody wants to see that. In basketball every possession is key and the ever looming presence of the expiring shot clock means that there is always something going on.
The game of basketball is so back and forth that there is never a dull moment. One minute you’re playing defense and the next you’re sprinting up the court trying to get an easy score on the break, then your hurling yourself back to try and stop the opponent doing the same. In soccer, if you’re an attacker and your team is defending then odds are you’re standing on the halfway line hoping that you don’t concede. In basketball, every player is required to be switched on and engaged 100% of the time.
4. The Athletes
This one should go without saying; in the NBA the average athlete is miles ahead of the average athlete in any soccer league. The average height in the NBA is around 6 foot 7, in the British Premier league the average height for the tallest team is just under 6 foot 1 inch tall.
NBA athletes are phenomenal physical specimens whose blend of size, strength, speed and dexterity is unmatched around the world. Let’s take LeBron James, the best athlete in the NBA and measure him vs Cristiano Ronaldo, the best athlete in soccer. Both players are incredible and transcend their respective sport thanks a lot to what they can do physically during a game.
Ronaldo in his prime was faster than LeBron, Ronaldo was recorded running 21 mph by FIFA and LeBron;s top recorded speed is 20.4 mph, but the huge size and strength difference held by LeBron clearly sweeps Ronaldo aside. LeBron is 6 foot 8 and 250 lbs, Ronaldo is 6 foot 1 and only 180 lbs. LeBron has a 40-inch vertical leap, Ronaldo is estimated to have a 36-inch leap. Both players are very agile but due to Ronaldo’s smaller stature he gets the nod there. Strength wise it wouldn’t even be a contest and both players have excellent stamina as well.
3. NBA vs. The Premier League
The top basketball league in the world is, of course, the NBA. The top soccer league in the world is the British Premier League, let’s do some comparisons.
The BPL has 38 games during the season with each team playing every other team twice; home and away. The NBA has 82 regular seasons games in which every team plays every other team at least twice AND the NBA has the Playoffs where a team can play an additional 28 games. That’s a hundred 110 games a year that an NBA fan can potentially watch their team. During the season it is a real rarity when there isn’t any NBA basketball on. In the BPL it’s once a week.
In the NBA the players can literally fall into your lap diving to save a ball from going out of bounds. In the BPL every game needs countless security guards to stop hooligans from invading the pitch. In the NBA you can get tickets which actually seat you right next to the players on the bench. In the BPL every team has a dugout where teams are isolated from the fans.
For me all competitive sports should be contact. You’re meant to be a world-class athlete going head to head with other great athletes to see who is the best. Physical prowess is paramount to male dominance and you should be trying to out-muscle everyone you can. In soccer there is huge diving culture which has become so toxic it’s actually revolting.
Players writhe around on the ground like they’ve just been shot when in actuality it was just something like a scrape on their leg. Not every soccer is like this thank God and those who champion toughness and integrity should be celebrated. In the NBA there is flopping which is vile but the incidents are few and far between.
This is by far my biggest criticism of soccer; the same teams win over and over again and without either huge circumstance or change in landscape nobody else can even get a look in. Take the Premier League again for example; since its inaugural season in 1992-93 there have been only 6 different title winners. In the NBA since 92/93 there have been 10 different NBA title-winning teams.
In soccer, the only way to win is to have money. All the big clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG are the best because they have the money to buy the best players in the world to stay on top. In the NBA with the draft system and salary cap there are cycles of who is on top and who isn’t. Teams will acquire/draft good players and success inevitably follows, but then usually after a period of time they fall back which allows new teams to come along and challenge.
This system keeps things interesting if you’re a fan. If you’re a Werder Bremen supporter in the German Bundesliga then there’s no chance you’ll beat Bayern Munich who have won the last 5 titles and that will continue as long as they have the money to keep buying world-class talent. Even for the Bayern Munich players, each consecutive title must mean less and less and it isn’t worth the same. At least the BPL is interesting in that regards because there are the top 6 who are usually contending for a title.
Look, I love both sports and I’ll be an Arsenal fan to the day I die, but basketball is just better. I’m not saying that soccer is bad, but I’ll take watching LeBron James over Ronaldo or Messi every day of the week.